Record Great Lakes Water Levels Will Go Higher

Weather

Water Levels of the Great Lakes are at record high levels for the month of June. High river levels mean that the level of the lakes will go even higher. Lakes Erie and Ontario are at record high water levels ever – for any month. Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan are at record high levels for the month of June. Lake St. Clair is tied for highest water level ever.

Graph of Water Level of Lake Superior

The Water Level of Lake Superior is up 4″ in the last month, up 12″ in the last year (that’s an increase of 6.6 TRILLION gallons!) and is now 16″ above the average level. It’s also 4″ above the previous June record level set back in 1986.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Michigan/Huron

Lake Michigan/Huron (one big lake – connected at the Mackinac Bridge and at the same water level) is up 6″ in the last month (that’s 2.34 TRILLION gallons) and up 13″ in the last year. The lake is now just 1″ below the highest June level also set in 1986. Lake Michigan/Huron is 30″ above the average June level.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Erie

As you can see on the graph above, Lake Erie is at the highest water level ever – beating the level of June 1986. The lake is up 4″ in the last month, up 10″ in the last year and is now 31″ above the average June level.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is at an all-time record high water level – even higher than it was in 2017. It’s up 9″ in the last month, up 27 inches in the last year (!!) and is now 33″ above the average June water level.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake St. Clair

The water level of Lake St. Clair has now tied the all-time highest water level set in 1986. The lake is up 2″ in the last month, up 10″ in the last year and is now 31″ higher than the June average level.

All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes have well above average flow and that will continue into next year at least. Rivers that flow into the lakes have generally well above average flow. The Grand River at Grand Rapids is (as of early Sat. AM) 9,910 cubic feet per second compared to an average of 2,780 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock has a flow of 1,760 cfs compared to an average of 767 cfs. The St. Joseph River at Niles is at 6,190 cfs compared to an average flow of 3,090 cfs and the Muskegon River at Croton is at 3,400 cfs compared to an average of 1830 cfs.

Lake levels will stay very high during the summer and into the fall. There are two concerns I should mention. The first is a line of strong/severe thunderstorms crossing a Great Lake. Strong winds will push the water toward the east side of the lake, causing the water level to rise. That could cause significant shoreline flooding/erosion (storms like this can produce a seiche – a sloshing of the water back and forth that can produce very dangerous currents. The second big concern is an Edmund Fitzgerald type storm in the fall (strong low pressure) that also pushes the water toward one shore…this could also produce significant flooding and erosion.

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